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Charles Herrmann (@HermsNFL) The Lateral Chief EditorThrough the first pair of weeks of the season, I did a couple different Twitter threads looking at different teams' running back snap counts that I felt were worth monitoring and tried to offer up what I drew from that information. I'd like to think it was a small, helpful thing to do. I missed doing Week 3 for personal reasons, but as I was getting ready to type out Week 4's thread, I realized that it's been a month of football now.
Four weeks is plenty of time for there to be a quality sample size to look at for analytical purposes. We've seen enough from all 32 teams to stop, reflect, and turn information into actionable steps we can take in regard to managing our fantasy football teams. With the help of FantasySP.com, I'm going to highlight some of the uncertain backfields I've had my eyes on since the beginning of the year and do my best to break down snap counts/touches/production and give you honest advice about what to do with trades, drops, adds, holds, etc. in redraft formats.
The numbers that will appear in parenthesis after the word "touches" indicate the number the player received by week to date (Week 1-Week 2-and so on), and receptions and targets will appear as such (y-z rec). Sound simple enough? Awesome. Let's jump in.
Kenyan Drake: 187 snaps, 72 touches (18-22-19-13), 67 att/254 yards rushing (3.8 YPC), 5-5 rec/20 yards receiving, 1 total TD, 38.4 ESPN PPR points
Chase Edmonds: 97 snaps, 29 touches (9-6-5-9), 16 att/59 yards rushing (3.7 YPC), 13-17 rec/73 yards receiving, 2 total TDs, 38.2 ESPN PPR points
Well, it's only a month in, but the Kenyan Drake Stans have gotten really quiet. That supposed injury that had him walking around in a boot lingering could be the culprit, maybe it's just the poor blocking schemes, but whatever the reason, Drake is straight playing like ass. For fantasy purposes, it's very concerning that he's been matched from a production standpoint by Edmonds, a guy who's playing around half the number of snaps as Drake, considering one of them was acquired with a 1st or 2nd round pick and the other was either a team's last pick or out there on waivers to begin the season.
The takeaway here is simple: Drake has to be considered a sunk cost you're probably going to have to hold onto whether you like it or not, and Edmonds is likely the most intriguing speculative add we're going to see barring unforeseen injuries on other teams for a while. I can't suggest moving on from Drake because frankly, what are you going to get for him? Simply cutting him for Edmonds just means you're swapping odds of hitting on the Cardinals backfield with a guy who plays less, and a trade might only net you a one-week wonder or some WR3 you can't use reliably.
Best advice: if you're the Drake owner, hold, do your best (but don't go overboard) to acquire Edmonds, and see what happens. If you don't own Drake, scoop Edmonds immediately (40.9% owned on ESPN as of this writing) if you have a bench spot you can use freely, play the waiting game and roll him out if he usurps Drake. OR, you could dangle him in front of the Drake owner to try and get them to overpay for the handcuff. It's too early to call it for Drake, but it appears the preseason hype is on life support.
Devin Singletary: 194 snaps, 66 touches (14-12-17-23), 50 att/212 yards rushing (4.2 YPC), 16-21 rec/114 yards receiving, 1 total TD, 54.6 ESPN PPR points
Zack Moss: 67 snaps, 20 touches (12-8-0-0), 17 att/48 yards rushing (2.8 YPC), 3-4 rec/16 yards receiving, 1 total TD, 15.4 ESPN PPR points The issue writing about this one is that it's obviously a skewed sample given that Moss hasn't played in two weeks, so the questions here are a.) did Singletary perform well without Moss and b.) does that mean Moss might have lost value because of it? - Week 3 @ LV: Singletary went for 13 att/71 yards rushing (5.5 YPC) with 4 catches/50 yards receiving and no TDs (16.1 points) - Week 4 @ MIA: Singletary wound up with 18 att/54 rushing yards (3.1 YPC) with 5 catches/21 yards receiving and 1 TD (18.6 points)
We can certainly answer one of those questions. Singletary was good in Moss' absence shouldering the workload, but how this affects Moss going forward is still the unknown. With the status of Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans still up in the air given that team's whole COVID-19 debacle and Moss still only practicing in a limited capacity today and yesterday, unfortunately all we can do is make educated guesses. Best advice: If you own Devin Singletary, hooray; you're happy. If you are the Moss owner, I view him as a hold but also as someone you could justifiably drop if you are in immediate need elsewhere (a top 36 WR or RB/top 12 QB/etc.) due to injury or bye week. For example, if you need a QB and you're looking at Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater this week @ ATL, by all means drop Moss and add Bridgewater. Same can be said if you own Falcons WR Julio Jones and his teammate Russell Gage is available. What I would not do is drop Moss for someone like fellow rookie RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn (probably) playing a fair bit tonight because of other injuries on his own team or Lions RB Adrian Peterson because he might get a TD here and there. It is uncertain what Moss' value is going forward, or if the Bills even play Sunday, but rolling with the assumption that he walks back into the Frank Gore role from last year is relatively safe. Simply put, he's a fine drop if it's for something immediately justifiable, but if you're looking into swapping him for another maybe, Moss should be held onto.
Baltimore Ravens: Mark Ingram II: 80 snaps, 37 touches (10-11-7-9), 34 att/148 yards rushing (4.4 YPC), 3-5 rec/25 yards receiving, 2 total TDs, 32.3 ESPN PPR points Gus Edwards: 70 snaps, 27 touches (4-10-4-9), 27 att/167 yards rushing (6.2 YPC), 0-0 rec/0 receiving yards, 0 total TDs, 16.7 ESPN PPR points J.K. Dobbins: 88 snaps, 21 touches (7-3-5-6), 15 att/92 yards rushing (6.1 YPC), 6-7 rec/52 yards receiving, 2 total TDs, 32.4 ESPN PPR points This one is a real doozy. I was all hot and confident about Dobbins after Week 1, but what I did not remember is that Gus Edwards exists and that the Ravens like him an awful lot. This backfield is irritating, but this article isn't for just giving up on it and saying "Oh, I don't want to touch that one." What we've seen so far out of the Ravens RBBC is that Ingram II is technically the "lead back" but is often spelled by someone else and not super reliable in fantasy. It seems game script will tell us if Edwards, the downhill runner, or Dobbins, the pass-catching guy, will be the #2 behind Ingram II, but even then it is a little difficult to prognosticate. It somewhat seems to me at least that the two games so far that the Ravens had in the bag for a win (@ HOU, @ WAS) led to more Edwards production and the slightly closer affairs saw more Dobbins (vs CLE, vs KC). Best advice: If you are the Mark Ingram II owner, it's become apparent that he's pretty much TD-or-bust and you have nothing more than a flex. At some point this year, it stands to reason he will be phased out given his age and the high draft capital invested in Dobbins. With little-to-no trade value, squeeze whatever juice is left out of him and don't be afraid to cut bait and move on from Ingram II when that day comes (should it come at all). I think it will be pretty obvious when that happens and your own judgement should be able to determine that. If you are the Dobbins owner, much of what I said about Zack Moss is true but in a different situation. I would suggest being more patient with Dobbins than Moss because of the fact that the Ravens' rushing attack is far more potent than that of the Bills', but if you are genuinely very needy, I guess Dobbins would be a cut. There's still a decent chance Dobbins can be Miles Sanders 2.0 and go off toward the end of the year and getting rid of him will cause you to spiral into a hellish regretful state, so hold on for now. I can't imagine his trade value is all that high in redraft either. As far as Edwards goes, I guess he's a spot-start kind of flex if a bye week comes up or someone gets injured, but it would have to be a game in which the Ravens should win handily and even then he probably won't net you more than 10 points unless he falls into the end zone. I don't see Edwards as particularly valuable unless you're in a deep league.
Detroit Lions: Adrian Peterson: 106 snaps, 58 touches (17-7-23-11), 54 att/245 yards rushing (4.5 YPC), 4-6 rec/31 yards receiving, 1 total TD, 37.6 ESPN PPR points
D'Andre Swift: 83 snaps, 25 touches (6-10-1-8), 12att/42 yards rushing (3.5 YPC), 13-16 rec/124 yards receiving, 2 total TDs, 41.6 ESPN PPR points Kerryon Johnson: 70 snaps, 23 touches (7-8-4-4), 21 att/71 yards rushing (3.4 YPC), 2-3 rec/17 yards receiving, 1 total TD, 16.8 ESPN PPR points I had this one pegged after two weeks fairly well in my estimation. Johnson does feel like the guy on the outside looking in who will be used sparingly but only enough to take away value from the others rather than having his own, and Swift is the PPR guy in this backfield. How it shakes out week-to-week as far as distribution goes is still wonky, but it's fairly clear to me personally. I guess what we're really looking out for here is the potential for Swift to start to literally and figuratively run away with the job, but the possibility of that is up in the air. Best advice: If you're the Swift owner, be patient. If you find an opportunity to sell high at any point coming up, I would do it. The potential for further clarity on this situation being dragged out is high and I'm not sure if he does end up kicking Peterson to the curb by the end of the year. If you own Peterson/want to, you kind of know what the deal is. It's possible he can fall into the end zone in the right matchup and should be treated as one of the better bye week/injury fillers there are. I don't view him that dissimilarly to Mark Ingram II at this point aside from the fact that Peterson is on the worse team. If for any reason you've held onto Kerryon Johnson, stop. It's feasible that he could have value at some point if one of either Swift or Peterson gets hurt, but until then we've seen the writing on the wall.
Indianapolis Colts: Jonathan Taylor: 132 snaps, 75 touches (15-28-14-18), 65 att/250 yards rushing (3.8 YPC), 10-10 rec/90 yards receiving, 2 total TDs, 56.0 ESPN PPR points Nyheim Hines: 93 snaps, 39 touches (15-1-11-12), 23 att/73 yards rushing (3.2 YPC), 16-17 rec/97 yards receiving, 2 total TDs, 45.0 ESPN PPR points Jordan Wilkins: 47 snaps, 29 touches (0-9-10-11), 27 att/94 yards rushing (3.5 YPC), 2-2 rec/22 yards receiving, 0 total TDs, 13.6 ESPN PPR points
I'm mostly interested in looking at has taken place from Week 2 on considering that marked the first game without RB Marlon Mack in the fold after tearing his Achilles tendon Week 1. We've seen Hines have mixed volume since his breakout in Week 1, but it seems to me that he will hold value in negative game scripts that force Indianapolis to throw the ball. But the frustrating thing is this: after shouldering a tremendous amount of work in Week 2 vs MIN resulting in 19.0 ESPN PPR points, Jonathan Taylor seems like he's going to be nagged by the presence of Jordan Wilkins as the spell guy. Wilkins has received 9 carries in three consecutive weeks now and it seems as though the hopes we had of Taylor being a stud workhorse are sort of diminished. I think Taylor should still be viewed as a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 regardless, but it is a small let down. It is still within the realm of possibility that he distances himself down the line and shows he does not need to be spelled that much, but who knows? Best advice: If you are the Taylor owner, feel good about it. I do, however, believe there is decent value for him in the trade market. I would not actively seek a deal but I would meaningfully listen if you have RB depth. If you don't have depth, then hold him and don't sweat it; Taylor is a solid guy. On the off chance Taylor gets injured, I think we've seen that Wilkins is the handcuff. If you have the roster spot to burn and are a fan of handcuffing, go snag Wilkins. If you are the Hines owner, hold and view him as a deeper league flex in the proper matchups (negative game script opportunities/matchups such as this week's game @ CLE who are fairly friendly to pass-catching backs). I think anyone who cut bait after Week 2 in a panic made the wrong call, but he is going to be closer to the guy we've seen the last two weeks than the mega-stud from Week 1 (27.3 of his 45 total points came in Week 1).
Los Angeles Rams: Malcolm Brown: 150 snaps, 53 touches (21-11-7-14), 45 att/182 yards rushing (4.0 YPC), 8-12 rec/50 yards receiving, 2 total TDs, 43.2 ESPN PPR points Darrell Henderson Jr.: 90 snaps, 47 touches (3-14-21-9), 43 att/223 yards rushing (5.2 YPC), 4-7 rec/62 yards receiving, 2 total TDs, 44.5 ESPN PPR points Cam Akers: 27 snaps, 18 touches (15-3-0-0), 17 att/52 yards rushing (3.1 YPC), 1-1 rec/4 yards receiving, 0 total TDs, 6.6 ESPN PPR points
It is unfortunate that we have not seen Akers in two weeks (more like three when you consider how early into the game Week 2 he suffered a rib injury), but we've HC Sean McVay hold strong on his desire to deploy the Rams backs in a similar fashion to what the Niners and HC Kyle Shanahan do. The prime example of this being Week 3 telling us "Oh, Henderson Jr. has to be the top waiver wire add," and Week 4 saying "Whoa, why is Brown getting so much run?" Figuring that Akers returns to game action this Sunday @ WAS, it's going to be an absolute mess again as it was in Week 1 with all three players healthy and getting varying degrees of run. From my standpoint as an observer, I would think that despite what the numbers say, Henderson Jr. profiles as the best pass catcher of the bunch and that it will be Akers and Brown duking it out for the in-between the tackles work. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being incredibly confident beyond doubt, my certainty of this view of the backfield is about a 6.5. There is a world in which Brown inexplicably continues to see passing work and renders Henderson Jr. useless or the Rams stick with what worked Week 3 and run Henderson Jr. up the middle more often, so approach this backfield cautiously.
Best advice: For starters, I view all three guys as sell high candidates if any of them go off in a given week for players on different teams in far clearer situations. Getting yourself out of the Rams business is what I would do personally aside from perhaps being patient with Akers. I've long felt that of the three of them, Akers is the most well-rounded back with the likeliest chance to earn a lion's share of the team's workload despite knowing that McVay wants to go full San Francisco with his arsenal. Considering the fact that he has missed time and might take a bit to ramp back up, his value is pretty low as of now anyway so you might as well hold.
The unfortunate thing about the Rams situation is that any level of clarity will likely only manifest if someone gets injured, and rooting for injury is highkey not cool and no one should want to see an athlete hurt. We've already seen how much easier it seemed to read the tea leaves when Akers was out, but even then it wasn't as open-and-shut as we had anticipated. Because I am the type of person who is only interested in holding a player who's only one injury away in front of them to seeing meaningful fantasy production, I wouldn't feel particularly attached to any of these guys.
The volatility that comes with being super right or dead wrong in regard to Brown, Henderson Jr., or Akers is not something I am comfortable with. My own mental health is volatile enough as it is and I don't want that type of energy to bleed over into a hobby. Of all of these backfields, the Rams' is the one I want the least to do with.
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